Rohingya Crisis: Aung San Suu Kyi To Address Myanmar

September 19, 2017

Myanmar's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi is expected to address the country on the growing crisis in Rakhine state. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate has been heavily criticised for her near silence as 400,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh amid violence. The latest violence was sparked by an armed attack blamed on Rohingya militants on police posts on 25 August.

The security crackdown that followed by the military has been called ethnic cleansing by the United Nations. The military says its operations in the northern Rakhine state are aimed at rooting out militants, and denies targeting civilians. But eyewitness accounts from the Rohingya who have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh contradict the official narrative.

Ms Suu Kyi had earlier claimed that the crisis was being distorted by a "huge iceberg of misinformation" and said tensions were being fanned by fake news promoting the interests of terrorists. She also cancelled a trip to the UN General Assembly in New York, saying she would address Myanmar on Tuesday on "national reconciliation and peace". The head of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, warned that Ms Suu Kyi had "a last chance" to halt the military offensive, in a recent interview with the BBC.

While Ms Suu Kyi is the de facto head of the civilian government of Myanmar, also known as Burma, it is the military which holds real power in Rakhine state as it is in charge of internal security, correspondents say. The BBC's Jonah Fisher says that Ms Suu Kyi is in a tight political spot as if she criticises the military, it could threaten the stability of her still fragile civilian government; but if she does not, what's left of her international reputation may be lost for good.

In an interview with the BBC, Shwe Mann, a former general turned Suu Kyi ally, said she was taking steps to address the situation. "I don't know to what extent she's making the phone calls or giving instructions or what. But one thing I'm sure is she is telling them (the military) they should act properly," he said. On Monday Myanmar's top general blamed the Rohingya for the crisis and accused extremists of trying to form a stronghold in Rakhine state.

The flood of migrants into Bangladesh has strained its resources, with little aid trickling in and official refugee camps overwhelmed. Thousands of Rohingya are currently without shelter and little food, say correspondents. Bangladesh's government says it is building new shelters for them and is restricting the migrants' movements. On Monday, a protest held by Islamist groups in Bangladesh's capital Dhaka drew thousands of demonstrators carrying placards denouncing Myanmar's government and the violence. Muslim groups in Indonesia and Malaysia have also held protests in recent weeks.


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